The same ol’ PB&J feeling tired? Reaching too often for the (fat and sugar-filled) chips and yogurt tubes? It’s probably time to up your game and revamp your kids’ bag lunch choices. It’s not easy coming up with snazzy, tasty-yet-healthy portable lunch options day in and day out, year after year, though.
So here are the best convenient, delicious and easy-to-prepare recipes from our chefs and food bloggers designed to keep things interesting, not to mention fresh and seasonal. Relax, now you’ve got something you can cross off your back-to-school to-do list.
Pizza is a kids’ standby, but loaded with fat and starch. Try this healthier version, which also looks fun and appetizing. Potato Pizza Skewers are colorful kabobs mixing mozzarella cubes, cherry tomatoes, sliced pepperoni (or swap with ham or leftover roasted chicken chunks) and basil, oregano and salt-coated boiled Creamers. These are ideal for lunches because they’re meant to be enjoyed at room temperature, and you can prepare them in advance and store in the fridge. Kids will love the spunky presentation.
It can be tough to make sure children following a plant-based diet get all the protein they need and not too much starch. Vegan Tacos in a Bowl are a great solution. Not only does it look great—vibrant and crunchy—it’s no-fuss. The hearty, low-fat bowl includes super foods like avocado, Little Potatoes and black beans, plus sweet corn (a kids’ fave), juicy halved cherry tomatoes, and to add flavor, sliced green onion, cumin, garlic and chili powder. Omit any spice for fussy eaters and either substitute white rice with brown or leave it out altogether. This dish tastes great warm or cold, and is great for non-vegans, too. Pack it all in to one Tupperware and lunch is ready to go.
The right chips
Nutty, crispy Homemade Potato Chips with Seeds transform a no-no fast food into a tasty, nutritious yes. Take your favorite Little Potatoes, say Terrific Trio, cut into quarters, toss with canola, hemp, chia, poppy, sesame and flax seeds, add a dash of coarse kosher salt and roast in the oven. You and the kids will never go back to bagged chips again. This version is just 365 calories a serving versus 536 for the commercial variety, and a primo source of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Bread ‘n spread
Store bought bread can be packed with sugar, trans fat and processed white flour. Make instead Little Potato Flatbread on the weekend. Freeze it, then pop it into lunches with a spread your children like, for example, cream cheese or hummus. These gluten-free flatbreads also taste great alongside a thermos of soup—ideal for dipping.
Salad in a jar
Children will eat salad if it’s bright and inviting looking and in an interesting format. They also often prefer dipping, so best to put the dressing on the side in a sealed container. Try Veggie-Loaded Summer Potato Salad Jars in a tote-able safe plastic container: a bright combo of baked yellow or red Creamers, shredded purple cabbage, spinach, diced red pepper and fresh parsley (leave out the onion)—or use veggies your kids like; snap peas, shredded carrots, etc. The homemade Tahini dressing is tangy, sweet and creamy with a dash of citrus, like a healthier Ranch. Or if you’re in a hurry, just use store bought. It’s all good!
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WHAT ARE YOU PACKING IN YOUR KIDS’ LUNCHES? ANY FAVORITES? WEIGH IN!
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